Overcoming intercontinental trade barriers remains a key priority for Africa. With this in mind, the continent is prioritising its long standing internal trade barriers to make the long term vision of easier international trade possible.
The most recent progression in this regard is the increasing implementation across the continent of the one-stop border post concept, in which two countries jointly operate a border crossing to remove the usual two-step process, greatly simplifying the procedural requirements for intra-Africa trade.
According to David Williams, Maersk Line Africa Chief Executive and Global Head of Safmarine, a major factor which has impacted development in Africa is intra-regional trade, which Williams says has experienced some much needed growth, particularly over the past year.
“Intra-Africa trade, which acts as a catalyst for growth across the continent, has seen an uptick over the past year – largely due to the recovery of the oil price. It is important to note how many African countries are still fundamentally oil-dependent, like Nigeria and Angola.”
Increased foreign investment is, however, beginning to reduce the dependency on oil for some of these countries,” he says.
A prime example of this is the trend among Chinese tile exporters in shipping out their machinery to establish manufacturing plants in West Africa. As construction continues to gain momentum as a result of these projects, the companies will be looking to export these tiles from one African country to another, further boosting intra-regional trade.
Williams goes on to explain that the benefits which come with increased intra-Africa trade are vast and stretch far beyond just economic gain. “In addition to diversifying the African economy to a greater extent, increased intra-regional trade results in the creation of better-quality employment and increased foreign investment, along with better bilateral trade – all of which will ultimately benefit the overall health of the continent and its people.”